Bob Violino has met a lot of people using their talents to answer Christ’s call to service and to live the Gospel message. 

Seventeen of them are in his book “Children of the Light: Inspiring Stories of Christians Living the Faith — and Changing the World” (iUniverse, $24.95). 

“They all have inspirational stories to tell and insight to share about life, faith and how we all have something to give,” he told Our Sunday Visitor.

Called to a ‘greater end’ 

Violino, of Massapequa Park, N.Y., is a Catholic and a writer who felt compelled to use his talents “for a greater cause.” 

His first book, “New Life: Lessons in Faith and Courage from Transplant Recipients” (iUniverse, $23.95), was published in 2003, but had its beginning in 1995, when his wife, Renee, donated a kidney to him. Coincidentally, it was on their wedding anniversary. 

“I got a second chance at life,” he told OSV. 

He wondered how others were affected by their second chances, and tracked down recipients who are making a difference. He also wanted to raise awareness about organ donation.

Servants of God 

“Then, a few years ago, I thought about writing another book with a spiritual angle where people can talk about their faith and how they are living it,” he said. “I really felt called to do this, to try in some small way to help make the world a better place.” 

Violino looked for people responding to Matthew 25:31-46, when Jesus says, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink.” 

The book’s title is based on Scriptures that refer to Christ as the light, and Matthew 5:14, when Jesus tells his followers, “You are the light of the world.” 

Most of the profiled people are Catholic. Bob Hentzen, president and co-founder of Christian Foundation for Children and Aging, is undertaking an 8,000-mile walk through Central and South America. Carol McGee of Boise, Idaho, was surprised by the Holy Spirit and helps others to recognize their charism. Everyone profiled, Violino said, is a servant of God. 

“We can all take the lessons Jesus taught to heart,” he said. “That’s the real point of this book.” 

Maryann Gogniat Eidemiller writes from Pennsylvania.


Rita Hoffman and her husband, Russ, have changed diapers on 100 babies and raised 400 other children with their hearts focused, she said, on St. Benedict’s Rule: Do everything, even menial tasks, “out of love for God.” 

In the past 40 years, the Hoffmans, of Moorhead, Minn., have been foster parents to 500 children, some of them physically or developmentally impaired, or victims of neglect and abuse. In the 1980s, they took in Vietnamese-American children, many who didn’t speak English. 

“We believe in divine providence and feel it is played out every day in our lives. When we get the call to take more children, and when the babies cry in the night,” Rita said, “I try to remember the words to the song ‘Here I am Lord, I will hold your people in my heart.’” 

In 2007, the Hoffmans received the Bishop Joseph M. Sullivan Award from Catholic Charities USA, the Holy Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Medal from Pope Benedict XVI and were named Foster Family of the Year by the National Foster Parent Association in Washington, D.C.  

— From “Children of the Light”


Sacred Heart Father Ron Cloutier finds joy in working with people who have lost their freedom and even their purpose in life. As director of the Office of Correctional Ministries for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, Texas, he ministers to the forgotten where, he said, “Being able to use your talents and skills in an area where there is a desperate need is tremendously fulfilling.” 

He is responsible for the daily Catholic ministry at 26 state prisons, 10 county jails, one detention facility and a federal prison. His ministry also includes families of the incarcerated, victims of crime and those who are released from prison. 

“The overall idea of ministry is to promote the good news that faith can be renewed through reconciliation,” he said. “It’s important that those in prison realize that the Church loves them and wishes to be present to them. We want to offer these people the opportunity to walk with Christ.”  

— From “Children of the Light”